The power goes out at 5am and Dad wakes up to keep breathing while I wonder what kind of “why did the chicken cross the road” dream I was running in. Dad gives going back to sleep a good half-hour effort before it’s time to start the day.
I’ll talk with Caleb on his morning commute while Dad writes about the type of people who will be out exploring this beautiful park with us. Dad uses the time in the car together to talk about authenticity, how awesome my mom was, and the fact that people hide behind their exterior personas instead of pursuing mental improvement.
Dad knows that I underutilize my potential but also wonders why I don’t spill my feelings and show my truth like the guy pushing his 300lb mom up a hill in a wheelchair to see a geyser. Perhaps one day Dad will give me the opportunity to accompany him as he slows down and cover him in words of care.
We spend an hour admiring the steamy and colorful Grand Prismatic Spring, being held captive by its beauty while others huff a sigh of disappointment that reality isn’t matching their internet expectations. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying Dad’s quiet contemplation while thinking of all the overlook hikes I can do when I come back.
There are too many people at Roaring Mountain (to hear the namesake) when we pass at 930am so we’ll continue to Blacktail Pond to enjoy the 30 seconds reprieve from cars before taking a half-mile detour to see a lone petrified Redwood over 800 miles away from family to escape the mass logging that started in the 1850s.
Near Slough Creek will be our first bison sighting of the trip, this one away from the other males in rut as not all mating stories require the son to fight the father in myth or the military. Dad has brought binoculars so that in watching one falcon eat, hop, and spread its wings I can realize what all the bird-watching fuss is about.
What an experience to watch 2,000 lb bulls charge each other after giving their best breathy and guttural threat that sounds more like a phone-sex operator whispering over a field into the ears of the many listening prospective mothers. Meanwhile, the 2.5-month-old calves are nursing while watching reproduction lessons that will be used in 3-6 years.
People aren’t the only ones interested in watching the mating habits of another species as we are joined by a group of ground squirrels. Being the largest land mammal in North America (over the moose and polar bear) comes with the perks of public fornication with an audience, something humans gave up so that the non-alpha males would have a chance.
We turn around at Tower-Roosevelt because the road to Canyon Village is closed so we’ll have to backtrack on the westside of the park to get there so we can see West Thumb on our way back to the Inn for our last night in the park. We enjoy a short walk along the Gibbon River before a stop for disappointing burgers – no bacon on his and added ketchup on mine.
We get rain between Hayden Valley and Lake Village but arrive at a dried-up version of West Thumb Geyser Basin that’s still lovely. We get more rain on the 18 miles back to the Inn and with the temperature down to 57° F Dad is in a driving mood and we return to Grand Prismatic Spring for an evening look; still steamy, multi-hued, and beautiful.
Dinner at the Inn has a two-hour wait so after calling Caleb I’ll make a run to the car in the downpour and put on Dad’s raincoat to ensure his sandwich is dry upon delivery. I’ll sit with him for 45 minutes and acknowledge how lucky I am, and how I’d be just as happy in a tent, to be here. We look forward to falling asleep to the sound of pattering rain.